Gov. Larry Hogan recently vetoed six bills that had passed the General Assembly during the 2015 legislative session. In my opinion, each action was an excellent use of the governor's veto power; they were bills I voted against in Annapolis.
What were the bills? Two were essentially identical to one another — each allowing "fast-track" voting rights for felons once they get out of prison, instead of making them complete their entire sentence, including parole, which is presently required.
Throughout the Annapolis session, liberals cried the blues about the rights of criminals. These bill were examples of the criminal coddling that went on down there. Here, the hue and cry from other side of the aisle was that the felons had been "disenfranchised" and needed to be returned to the voters rolls as soon as possible ... presumably as Democrats, I would guess.
In fact, one advocacy group, Communities United, said the governor had "effectively disenfranchised 40,000 Marylanders who want to participate in their communities."
I would say these people disenfranchised themselves by committing a felony, or felonies. It seemed crazy enough to me that we were fretting about voting rights for murderers, arsonists, rapists and the like, but shouldn't we at least require them to complete their incarceration — and parole — before that happens?
Like so many things that happen in the legislature, it just defies common sense. Thankfully, the governor is a man with common sense.
Another bill he vetoed was the travel tax legislation. Essentially, the tax-and-spenders tried to make the case that this proposal merely closed a loophole between hotel taxes collected by brick-and-mortar establishments and online services, such as Travelocity or Expedia. Marriott claimed it was being treated unfairly.
This is another measure I voted against. Why? Because you know as well as I do that raising taxes, whether to close a loophole or not, will only be paid for by the consumer — not the online seller. A tax hike is a tax hike and is unacceptable in this climate given what former Gov. Martin O'Malley had done to us over the past eight years. Hogan agreed.
Two other bills which, thankfully, were vetoed also were designed to coddle criminals. One would have allowed people to smoke marijuana in public, including while in a motor vehicle.
Let me get this straight: It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol — an otherwise legal substance — in a car, but it would be permissible to smoke a joint in the same car? Good grief! Our governor correctly noted in his veto message that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said marijuana use is the second leading cause of impaired driving crashes.
The last bill Hogan vetoed would have made it easier for criminals to get their forfeited property back. This bill was opposed by state's attorneys all over Maryland, and was seen as an impediment to their ability to keep criminals off the street. Again, the governor used common sense — a commodity that isn't so common in Annapolis.
In each of these vetoes, Hogan showed again that his values are consistent with those of mainstream Marylanders. This is what happens when folks finally determine that enough is enough, and go outside politics to entrust a businessman to get the job done.
Maryland is finally moving in the right direction, and common sense has become common again ... at least in the governor's office.
Haven Shoemaker is a state delegate representing the 5th District.